"We're all just fragile threads, but what a tapestry we make." – Jerry Ellis

Archive for the ‘wine lovin’’ Category

It’s All About the Wine—Even If It’s Only Tuesday

It may look like an innocent wine bottle--but could Attila the Hun be in there?

It may look like an innocent wine bottle–but could Attila the Hun be in there?

I like wine from a box. That’s a hard thing to admit…certainly doesn’t sound classy, does it? After all, I do put the wine in a glass; I don’t just hold my mouth under and dispense. Personally, I think wine from the box has come a long way since Darrell and I would get the big box of Franzia that took up half a shelf in the refrigerator. We usually opt for the smaller boxes now, so that by the time we’re drinking the last glass it doesn’t taste like vinegar. I love drinking just a glass while I’m cooking dinner in the evening, and the box makes it easy to just drink a small one (or add more to it if it’s been a tough day!) I like red wine, so I tell myself how all those antioxidants are helping me ward off dementia and health issues as I grow older.

My favorite wine-in-the-box story comes from my husband’s former co-worker, who also worked a side job as a server at fundraising events. Apparently the crowd at one particular gathering was trying to dazzle the people at their table with their superior wine knowledge, checking the legs (which I’ve learned really doesn’t tell you that much about a wine’s quality) and being a bit snobby about the wine service. They were a demanding group to him, and more than a little condescending. Now the funny thing was that the servers would pour the wine from classy-labeled wine bottles at the tables, but those bottles were filled in the kitchen with wine from a box. I imagine he had a hard time keeping a straight face when one of them declared after tasting, “Well, it’s certainly a lot better than that wine out of a box.”

I have learned a lot about wine over the years and I love going to the wineries and hearing about how they make their wines. Yet I still feel a little self-conscious when I order a bottle of wine at a nice restaurant and they open it at the table, giving me the cork and pouring a tiny amount for me to swirl and take a quick taste. I never quite know how to act besides saying a quick, “Thanks, it’s good.” I’ve wondered how often people spit it out and declare that the wine is horrible and demand the waiter to take it back. I asked a waiter about that one time, and he told me it really doesn’t happen that often when people get bottles—it’s more when they are getting a glass. Fun fact.

Darrell and I have made wine ourselves for several years now. We don’t go out and stomp the grapes or anything, but they have winemaking kits that are actually quite delicious. Our favorite kit to make is a Chardonnay—it always turns out perfect. The labor-intense part of winemaking is the cleaning and sanitizing of all the bottles—a kit makes around 28 bottles. The actual bottling part is fun. I like to think of these kits as idiot-proof. Simply add what the instructions say to add and stir and wait. The beginning of the process resembles what you see in a dirty mop bucket, but as the wine sits in the carboy, the smell of it in the room is wonderful. Similar to how many people feel about coffee, I have never been able to find a wine that tastes as good as the wine smells as it’s fermenting. (Note: The same is not true about brewing beer. Beer smells horrible while it’s brewing!)

This past year my friend Tina has become a consultant for a wine party business called Wine Shop at Home. She comes to your house and walks you through tasting the various wines and food pairings. When you set up the party, you have her order a wine kit (red, white, or mixed) that you want to taste at your party. The company sends you the kit, along with the cards that tell you what kind of food pairings work well with each wine, and voila!—instant party. You pay for the wine kit, but it’s at a discount, so you spend about the same amount you would spend on food and drink if you were having a party anyway. If you have friends that drink wine, it is a great way to try new wines and get together. You can check out her website here for more information about parties or just to learn more interesting facts about wine:  http://www.wineshopathome.com/tflower?customerid=355785&MarketShow=565

Darrell and I ended up signing up for the Wine Shop at Home Wine of the Month Club through our party. We’ve gotten some great, high quality wines, and I love reading the description cards that come with them. They give you recipes and food pairings for each wine and tell a little bit about the grapes used and the vineyards they come from. They also describe the wines’ noses and such in terms that make me laugh. (Did I mention I wasn’t very sophisticated?) My favorite description was for the Mariana Vineyard’s Petite Sirah wine. It described the wine like this: “This wine is powerful and the alcohol, even at around 14%, is fairly noticeable in the finish. The attack in the mouth showcases big tannins. The mouthfeel is fluid, fresh and aggressive, with blackberry flavors coming forward.”* That instantly made me think the wine was a bottled version of Attila the Hun and would jump out of the bottle and knock us upside the head. But that’s just my wine-in-the-box humor again. Sorry. I’m working on it.

Because I like to think I am getting a little more sophisticated, or at least more knowledgeable, with these wines. I’ve learned how to discern the various flavors within the wine once they’ve been pointed out to me. Many of the wines are for collecting, and advise that they taste best after 3 -5 years. We’re trying to save them longer, or at least until a special occasion comes around. We’ve been very impressed with the bottles we’ve tried so far. Since we’ll be waiting for these bottles to age a little, it looks like I won’t be getting rid of my wine in a box any time soon. Let’s just hope I don’t get too spoiled with the good stuff that I can’t go back to box wine. Bottoms up!

 

*Taken from Wine Shop at Home’s description card.

Friendships Then and Now

My friend and cousin, Kim, texted me that she wanted to have a girlfriend get together just for fun. Jeans, t-shirts wine and food. Not for any particular reason, or to be the hostess at a handbag/makeup/jewelry sales party. Just the girls hanging out and catching up.

I told her that she needed to hang out with us “old” women more, because truthfully we find any excuse to sit in jeans and t-shirts, stuff our faces and wash it all down with wine. But I understand her dilemma. Seasons of life dictate how we live our friendships.

My friendships at 42 are so much different than the ones I had at 22 and 32. (We won’t even go as far back as elementary/junior high days-whew!) At 22 I was fresh out of college, newly married and ready to dive into a career—it was an adjustment enough just to be working 40 hours a week and having a house to take care of. My college friends and I kept in touch via Christmas cards and the occasional lunch, but it was my work friends that I spent the most time with—great people, but not as deep of friendships that I’d had with the friends I grew up with.

Fast forward a decade and I’m in the throes of being the mother of young children. A stay-at-home mother of young children, and they outnumbered me. As much as I felt very blessed to be staying home with them, honestly there were times I would greet my husband before he even got in the door, talking his ear off, desperate to have a conversation beyond “magic words” and how many bites of vegetables were required to leave the table. There were a few years when I felt like he was my only lifeline to the adult world. I remember praying in the car one night that God would put more friends in my life, and crying over it because I felt like such a loser for having to pray for friends in the first place.

I did get out of the house beyond the grocery store by attending Book Club, Bible study or taking the kids on an occasional playdate with other moms. Those friends really helped me grow beyond Mommy Mode, as we bonded over things like helping each other hang curtains or paint a room in one of our houses. I still craved the days of close friendships with my girlfriends where we went places sans children and were just wiser versions of our younger selves, but I became a new kind of grown up from these friendships—and I cherish them.

Now I’m in a good place in life with my friends—probably my favorite so far. My kids are no longer solely dependent on me—I don’t need a babysitter to go anywhere. Coincidentally, a lot of the friends I’ve made in the last ten years I’ve met through my kids and their activities. My friendships with other women vary in so many ways. Some friends I see all the time, others I won’t catch up with for months at a time and yet we still connect like we always have since seventh grade. In part, I think the reason why I’m in such a good place with friendships is that I’ve gotten better at knowing myself—what kind of people are good for me, and what relationships are not. Many of my friends have fed my faith life and all of them have shaped me to who I am right now. The friendships I’ve had with women who were older than me by decades have taught me that getting older is whatever you want it to be. So, despite wishing I had the metabolism of my twenties back, I wouldn’t want to go back to that time in my life. It’s taken me this long to figure some things out!

I’m hoping Kim will have a chance to hang out with us soon. We might even forego the jeans and wear sweats while we make toasts to friendships with our wine. To old friends and new, who loved us as we once were, love us for who we are now, and will be there for us as we move towards knee surgeries and Depends undergarments. Thank you, Lord, for friends!

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